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This entry is cross-posted from the More Than Two blog. Feel free to comment here or over there.

gamechanger-finalFinally, after incredible struggle, the manuscript for my memoir The Game Changer is finished and in copyediting. You can preorder it now on Amazon.

Writing this book has been one of the most difficult things I've ever done. I've been thinking of it as The Big Book of Franklin Gets It Wrong, because it tells the story of the most awful things I have ever done, the greatest mistakes I've ever made, and the various ways I've hurt people close to me in the quest to figure out how to make this whole polyamory thing work. It's been written and re-written and re-re-written (I went through four complete drafts and numerous smaller revisions and edits, prompted in large part by the incredible support and comments I've received from people who looked at the early versions).

Writing this book meant reliving some of the most painful times in my life. Along the way, I had to wrestle with my first-ever feelings of imposter syndrome ("Who am I to be writing a memoir? Who's going to care about the relationships I screwed up?"), with feelings that I wasn't good enough to write this book (it is radically different, in style, tone, and content, from anything I've ever written before), and with my own inner demons: my guilt and shame over the people I've hurt and the things I've screwed up.

In the end, I wrote this book because I believe there's an elephant in the poly living room, a great gray pachyderm we don't often acknowledge. We like to say that one of the biggest benefits of polyamory is we don't have to choose; when we connect with someone new, that connection doesn't have to threaten our existing relationships. Indeed, some poly folks look down on those benighted monogamous heathens, those poor struggling savages who aren't yet enlightened enough to realize that a new love doesn't have to mean discarding the old.

But sometimes, we connect with someone new, and that person changes things. Or changes you. Love is not always safe, or tidy, or neat. Sometimes, it's disruptive. Sometimes, a new love makes us realize that our existing relationships no longer work for us.

These relationships are game changers.

Game changers, by their very nature, create turmoil. Game changers upset applecarts. And we, as polyamorous people, need to be aware that game changers happen.

My first game-changing relationship showed me that for years, the compromises I had made to be with a monogamous partner were damaging to the people around me. I was both easy to love and dangerous to love. I did not think about the consequences of my agreements for new partners who might want to be close to me, and I did not recognize the ways I failed to take responsibility for my own emotions or actions. And so, predictably, I hurt other people—people who loved me very much.

The Game Changer is a love story, but it's also more than that. It's the story of how I learned to be honest about my needs, to recognize that other people are human, and to take responsibility for myself.

It's also the story of things I did very, very wrong.

It is still, years later, hard for me to deal with some of the things I got so badly wrong, and the damage I did to people who loved me. Maybe, just maybe, other people will read this book and be a little bit less wrong, a little bit more compassionate, in the way they handle their game changers.

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Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
ashbet
Mar. 31st, 2015 10:53 pm (UTC)
It takes strength to admit to your own failings -- and to go against the narrative that many poly people very much *want* to believe, that new relationships don't ever have to end/change existing relationships, and that love should be enough to go around.

That's a myth, and a damaging myth, because it means that many people aren't talking about their failures or learning experiences in this area . . . which means that new people are constantly falling into the same traps, and thinking they're alone in their struggles.

(I'm very contentedly poly and am happy in my longterm stable relationships -- but it took a lot of change, effort, and pain to get here, and discounting that by saying "But we're all happy NOW!" doesn't mean that I get to edit out a mono/poly marriage that could not be made to work. Not that poly was the only, or even the main, reason that my marriage ended . . . but it was certainly a contributing factor, along with serious chronic illness/disability, financial issues, and in-the-end-irreconcilable personality differences.)

I look forward to reading your book, and I hope it will prove to be illuminating and helpful -- because, even if we're in a good place, there is *always* the opportunity for a game-changing person or set of circumstances to occur in the future . . . and I'd also like to have good advice to give to people who are experiencing this level of change, and who may be asking for help in dealing with it.

Is there going to be a pre-order for the e-book version, at some point? I'd prefer to buy it for my Kindle than in paperback.

Cheers,

-- A <3
mai_neh
Apr. 1st, 2015 12:54 am (UTC)
I'm sure you know this, but committed monogamous people end up meeting game changers also. Many people enter into committed relationships of one sort or another, and spend years of effort trying to stay together, only to watch it all fall apart when one of the partners meets somebody exciting and new and "obviously" more compatible.

Sometimes all the people are better off after such a disruption. Or, maybe some are better off and others are not. Or, maybe it was all a mistaken judgment and everybody is worse off. How can we know ahead of time which it will be? People enter into bad relationships for all the wrong reasons every day.

Or, you could've been the one who decided you would not break up for any reason, no matter who you met, no matter what you learned, because you'd made a commitment. And then your partner leaves you instead!

There are no guarantees in love. We're all just trying to do our best. And nothing will last forever, no matter how hard we try.
anais_pf
Apr. 1st, 2015 03:30 am (UTC)
I'm really looking forward to reading this. Thanks for writing it.
make_your_move
Apr. 1st, 2015 11:36 am (UTC)
Finally! I'm really looking forward to this book. I remember writing you after a poly relationship broke up asking if you had *any* articles on dealing with a break up. Yes, it will probably show how you fucked up (you've since recovered), but it will probably be amazingly helpful to other folks.

Congrats
fearga
Apr. 1st, 2015 04:44 pm (UTC)
Being on the other end of a "game changer" (my partner started a new relationship that *radically* altered how he chose to relate to me), I'm looking forward to reading your account. It was probably one of the most painful experiences of my life, and made me think long and hard about what I was willing to accept in a relationship, and if change could be a good thing, or an end to the partnership. Thank you for being willing to take a hard look at an area most of us don't want to think about.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 27th, 2015 10:39 pm (UTC)
As the monogamous spouse who got ousted by a "game-changer", I have to admit I spent years bitter and angry. Someone I didn't get to choose came in and my husband was suddenly all hers. I hated them both for the longest time until I realized what a favor she did for me. If his love and commitment to me was so weak that a "game-changer" could make him leave our family, then he really wasn't worth all the time, love and energy I'd poured into our marriage. The "game-changer" eventually dumped him when she met her own "game-changer". Life goes on.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )